Living in docklands of Sydney in1863 means that nimble fingers are of more use to Sam Galloway than being able to read, until his mother dies, leaving him with a watch on which is engraved words he cannot read. Her dying words entreat him to use the watch to find his dead fathers sister in New Zealand. The quest leads him to board HMS Orpheus as a stowaway, little knowing that the royal navy corvette is doomed, destined to be caught in a sandbank at the entrance to the Manukau Harbour. As the ship breaks apart, Sam is thrown into the tumultuous seas with the crewmen, many of whom perish. Will Sam survive to recover the precious watch that connects him to his father and the family he never knew he had? Following the events of New Zealand worst maritime disaster, this adventure story for children gives insights into the shipwreck of HMS Orpheus on the Manukau Bar on 7th February 1863.